A Space For Us
Posted on February 15, 2021 by The Quest
A mosaic is defined as a pattern or picture made using many small pieces of coloured stone or glass. Relating this to myself, what I find especially meaningful is how diﬀerences brought together can create something powerfully beautiful.
Growing up as Indian Gay Male, who was raised within the Ismaili Muslim faith has been a lonely and sometimes insurmountable challenge. In my culture there is a lot of pressure to fall into the stereotypes of what a male should be;
The provider, the protector, a man who leads his wife, a father to hopefully many children, oh and the wedding… there’s always the pressure of having great BIG INDIAN wedding; The jewellery, the food, the endless ceremonies and ultimately allowing your parents to be proud.
If I am honest, I wanted a lot of that. I felt it to be my duty, my role and my destiny. Yet I knew I had a secret… one that could not only destroy the dreams of my parents, one that could quite possibly annihilate my own future.
I still remember to this day at 19 years old, how alone I felt. It was as if I was in a dark and unfamiliar room with no one there… no one accept my own fear to shroud me with hopeless sense of doom.
In my culture whenever there was a problem for one of us, we would discuss it as a family and come together in our own unique strength to solve it as one. The support I felt, very cleverly masked the pressure I felt, to disclose and discuss all possible options before making any major decision. This wasn’t unique to me. All my Indian friends — my crew — they all approached life with the same openness, togetherness and sometimes institutional like support.
Yet it was a system that seemed to work.
Getting a degree was not an option, it was a requirement within the family unit. As people of colour in a White World, we were guests in a Country designed for and ruled by them. Our parents all knew that having arrived as refugees we would always be looked at as diﬀerent, as somehow less than. We would have to work harder, shine brighter, be smarter and then hope that we get a chance to make a diﬀerence with a good career or business.
We were brought up to be Lawyers, Doctors, Dentists and shrewd business people, for that is the way we could rise to the top and stand proudly amongst our White Hosts who had been kind enough to Allow Us a Space in THEIR land.
Coming out was one of the hardest things that I have ever done in my life. You see I knew I would destroy my parents dreams with my reckless and selfish admission. I would for the first time be going against the family rhythm. I would be playing a beat that would take the orchestra into a hideous and awkward sounding moment that would forever change the symphony of our Family.
How could I muster up the courage to step into this madness?
I have never read any book from cover to cover let alone in a day… but I had found a Book called Now That You Know (by Betty Fairchild and Nancy Hayward). It was a guide designed for parents of children who had come out. It was collection of coming out stories that allowed me to see what possibilities could emerge from having the courage to come out. They were not all happy stories, some were heart breaking. Stories where families had turned their own children away in disgust and disapproval. Some however were stories of triumph. Happy tales where families came together to create a new path, not only for themselves but for other children and families to come.
One of the things that helped me the most, was sense of acceptance that seemed to exist in the LGBTQ community. It was a land of misfits that came together to heal, to love and to uplift the many hearts that arrived there so exhausted and so broken. They would take the broken shards of these individual people and a Mosaic of unity would form as they would come together.
At least that’s what I thought.
Yes, I was received with open arms into the community of misfits. However no one told me, I would not fit when it came to Love and when it came to Passion.
The World I entered was Whiter than ever.
Few people of colour dared in the 90’s to declare their wretched secret. My Indian friends had accepted me, but they left me to this new world to navigate it by myself as they could not relate. I was once again Alone.
Don’t get me wrong, people in the community were friendly, loving and open. Yet when it came to Love and Commitment, I did not seem to fit the Type. I did not even show up on most men’s ‘radars’ as they had no reference to Indian outside of Bollywood. Most men’s ‘Types’ had been formed from the images they had seen in magazines & on screens. White and stereotypical masculine images that were reinforced in the LGBTQ community wherever and whenever you dared to look.
Love and total acceptance for me, was now for me as elusive as those careers my parents had tried so hard to get me prepared for. It was another source of pain for my parents too, as they had to watch me squander the only real chance I had in life — the chance to connect with a good Indian woman and have a family. They would have to suﬀer the pain of watching their son feel lonely and unwanted — only this time there would be nothing they could do to help.
Love for me sadly has been a rough a ride in the LGBTQ community. I would find solace in talking to street kids, rent boys and any misfit who would give me some attention. I knew I couldn’t be picky, so I settled a lot of the time. I settled for what I could get, rather than dreaming unrealistically for what I wanted. I knew deep within that I would never have the centre fold guy.
Sadly this took me on a painful journey where I felt and created nothing but pain for all those around me.
Today I have been alone for over 11 years. Some of it by choice and some simply because I shrank into a place where I was tired of hearing ‘you’re not my type’. I have spent my time alone, discovering my inner beauty and uncovering my many vulnerabilities.
I have also realised that I am not alone.
As part of my eﬀorts to take Me out of the equation and serve the greater collective in the LGBTQ, I have had the honour to co-create Quest Mosaic. It is a space of free online gatherings where Queer, Bi and Gay men — men like me — can come together and feel as if they belong.
In the Quest Mosaic racialised people who identify as men, are allowed to celebrate their individuality, connect with their grace and realise that they are ENOUGH. They are given the space to see that their diﬀerences are Powerfully Beautiful.